Assigned on Briefs December 5, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 14-03151 James
M. Lammey, Judge
petitioner, Rodney Smith, appeals the denial of
post-conviction relief from his Shelby County Criminal Court
convictions for attempted especially aggravated robbery,
aggravated burglary, employment of a firearm during the
commission of a dangerous felony, convicted felon in
possession of a handgun, and convicted felon in possession of
a firearm. On appeal, the petitioner alleges he received
ineffective assistance of counsel due to trial counsel's
failure to call a material witness at trial. Discerning no
error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
S. Deshazo, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rodney
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David
H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy Weirich, District
Attorney General; and Glen Baity, Assistant District Attorney
General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
John Everett Williams and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.
ROSS DYER, JUDGE
and Procedural History
Shelby County grand jury indicted the petitioner for one
count of especially aggravated robbery of victim Derrick
Cornell, one count of aggravated burglary of Mr. Cornell, one
count of assaulting victim Shaneka Carruthers, one count of
employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous
felony against Mr. Cornell, one count of convicted felon in
possession of a handgun as a result of a prior rape
conviction, and one count of convicted felon in possession of
a handgun as a result of a prior felony drug conviction. The
grand jury indicted codefendant Lorenzo Horne for one count
of facilitation of especially aggravated robbery and one
count of accessory after the fact. The petitioner and Mr.
Horne were tried separately.
Trial and Sentencing
petitioner's trial, the jury heard testimony that Mr.
Morris Mitchell, who was not called as a witness, was an
ordained minister that owned a house located at 3055 North
Trezevant from which he sold drugs and operated a
prostitution ring. The petitioner and Mr. Mitchell had known
one another a long time, and the petitioner frequented Mr.
Mitchell's house for the purpose of smoking marijuana.
The evening of November 9, 2013, Mr. Mitchell called the
petitioner and asked him to come over and bring a scale to
weigh narcotics. According to the petitioner, who testified
at trial, when he arrived at the house, Mr. Mitchell met him
at the car. Mr. Mitchell, the petitioner, and Mr. Horne, who
was already present at the house, walked to the side of the
house and entered a room that Mr. Mitchell unlocked from the
outside. Once inside the room, the petitioner put the scale
on the table. He heard angry voices coming from a back room.
Mr. Cornell then charged into the room naked and hit the
petitioner in the head with a gun. The two fought, and the
petitioner was shot. Ms. Carruthers, who was only partially
clothed, entered the room while the men were fighting.
petitioner denied robbing anyone that evening. The petitioner
described the house as "a dope house" and testified
that Mr. Mitchell "pimps girls" out of it. For
these reasons, Mr. Mitchell does not allow anyone in the
backroom of the house.
Carruthers also testified at the petitioner's trial. She
admitted to being a prostitute and indicated she and other
women brought men back to a room in Mr. Mitchell's house,
had sex with them in exchange for money, and gave Mr.
Mitchell a portion of the money earned "as a result of
doing business" in his house. The evening in question,
Ms. Carruthers brought Mr. Cornell to Mr. Mitchell's
house. Mr. Cornell paid Ms. Carruthers for sex. Ms.
Carruthers gave Mr. Mitchell a portion of the money received
from Mr. Cornell and bought narcotics from Mr. Mitchell. Ms.
Carruthers then brought Mr. Cornell to the back room in Mr.
in the back room with Mr. Cornell, Ms. Carruthers heard a
knock on the door and thought it was Mr. Mitchell. Both Ms.
Carruthers and Mr. Cornell were naked. Mr. Cornell opened the
door, and the petitioner hit him in the head with a gun.
Horne also testified at trial but offered a slightly
different version of events. Mr. Horne confirmed the
petitioner, Mr. Mitchell, Ms. Carruthers, Mr. Cornell, and a
couple others were present in Mr. Mitchell's home the
night of the robbery. The petitioner was smoking marijuana,
and Mr. Horne was smoking crack cocaine. Mr. Mitchell left
the house, and the petitioner pulled out a gun and indicated
he was going to rob Mr. Cornell, who was in the back room
with Ms. Carruthers. Mr. Horne told him not to do it, but the
petitioner left the room and walked to the side of the house.
Mr. Horne then heard gun shots, and the petitioner asked Mr.
Horne for help because Mr. Cornell was "fixin' to
kill" him. Mr. Horne tried to kick in the door, but it
did not open. Mr. Horne then left in a truck, found Mr.
Mitchell, and brought him back to the house. Mr. Mitchell
opened the door to the back room, and the petitioner exited.